How my Favorite Authors Get On with their Words

Tom downs a whole bottle of wine with his words, talking and dancing until the wee hours, finally making love at 3 am. They eventually separate only to avoid the wet spot in the middle of the bed.

Ben brews honeyed tea from his words and serves it to his animal friends while they sit and discuss the frailties of the human condition. Fictional animals and Taoists seem particularly well suited to assessing human foibles. “And this tea could use a bit more honey,” says one of the animals hopefully.

Robert saddles up with his words on a backroads motorcycle tour, camping together under the open stars. Around each campfire they discuss the academic and intellectual conundrums that have haunted them since college.

Ken arranges his words carefully, picking out the seeds and stems, and rolls them tightly in rolling papers. He smokes them with deliberate care, exhaling perfect smoke circles.

Chuck sharpens his words like prison shivs, juggling them for audiences on a dirty Portland street corner. When he swallows them and breathes fire, people either leave whole dollars in his tip jar or storm off in disgust.

Opal steals her words from the sky, like they were butterflies. But she does not gas them, pin them to boards, or use their scientific names. She calls them fairies or gives them names like Thomas Chatterton Jupiter Zeus. She mends their wounds with Vaseline and sets them free again so they may do her god’s work.

Theo dresses his words in whimsical costumes, except the littlest ones, whom he allows to remain in their pajamas. Together they concoct puppet shows and pageants in the living room.

Harlan measures his words carefully, mixes them with chemicals from the hardware store, and stuffs them all tightly into a metal pipe. He caps them, adds a fuse, and hands his readers a single lit match.

How do your favorite authors get on with their words?

Inspired by a relistening to the Indigo Girls’ heartfelt tribute to Virginia Woolf … we revere the books that shaped us, but do we give their creators enough love?

Thanks for reading. Cheers,

Photos above from some of my favorite book covers (except the bus “Further” by Joe Mabel) … can you match all eight images with my word dance for each author?

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